Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

I got my sewing machine out again a few days ago, after a bit of a hiatus. I just couldn't muster up the motivation to work on quilting in summer and fall. I got into gardening, and going for regular evening walks (I'm such an old lady). But I had an idea for a small, quick sewing project, and thought it would be a good way to get myself back into the swing of things.

My machine is a Singer 132Q Featherweight (for whatever that might be worth),

which my friend Turk had ended up with, and gave me when I started quilting. (Isn't she awesome? Yes, yes she is.) Straight away I remembered how to wind the bobbin, and the way to wind the top thread through the gears and into the eye of the needle, and how to pull the bobbin thread up from below. That part was smooth sailing.

And, it's a good idea to test things out on a scrap piece of fabric, because sometimes sewing machines do things like this:

Jammed up, terrible noises, lots of broken thread, maybe some swearing on my part. Someone with more knowledge of sewing machines could immediately tell you why that happened. For me, I just had to keep trying, until I eventually discovered that, in this case, there was a small piece of thread tangled up in the gears of the bobbin compartment thingy (what, you expected me to know the proper word for that too?).

Once I got that sorted out, the stitch length and tension had to be changed. Stitch length is easy. Tension, on the other hand...

Maybe you can see in this photograph how in between the stitches, there are little knots of thread (easier to see because I used variegated thread). From the WikiHow guide:

Most domestic sewing machines are of the "lockstitch" variety. That means an upper thread and a lower thread "lock" together. If they don't lock together in the correct place, the tension is "off" and the seam lacks proper strength.
As the threads lock together, they form a knot. If this knot is in the correct place, it is never is hidden (locked) between the two layers that are being sewn together. When these knots are obvious on the bottom or the top sewing surface, it's time to adjust your tension.
Basic Concept: If you get a picture in your mind of the tension knob as a device to raise and lower these knots, it makes the adjustment much easier.
If there are knots on the bottom, increase the tension. If they're on the top, decrease it. But excuse me internet, what if they're on the top AND on the bottom? Well, I did my best anyways. To get a more professional adjustment, I'll have to wait until the next time I see my mom.

What's funny is that after all that, I discovered that this little project doesn't exactly lend itself to machine sewing. Because three edges eventually come together at once, you can machine sew the first seam, but have to hand sew the rest. And that's more than okay with me, I enjoy the old fashioned way just fine. Stay tuned for a post on that project, as soon as it's done!

The exercise was worth it, of course. In achieving our goals (and generally when trying to get anything difficult done), I've learned that you must "slice the apple thinner". Take an overwhelming task, and tackle a small, doable portion. So, in getting back into quilting and other machine sewing, here is the first, thin slice.


Turk said...

See? It is because of stuff like "threading the bobbin" and "adjusting the tension" that I never really learned how to use the sewing machine. Maybe one day...when I get really brave.

SKFitz said...

But you're one half of Brave Little Kitchen - you're the bravest of the brave!